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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 1:00 am

Highlights shared from SACS parents' survey

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Southwest Allen County Schools asked, and parents answered – 1,258, to be precise.

The district recently sought feedback on grading and assessments through a 30-question survey, which teachers and administrators also took.

The questionnaire was conducted through a partnership between SACS and expert researchers in the field, Thomas Guskey and Laura Link. They are professors at the University of Kentucky and IPFW, respectively.

At meetings for parents, the researchers this week shared highlights from the survey results along with information about their upcoming work with SACS – including potential revisions to the elementary school report card.

Survey responses are relevant to the process, Link said, adding that they provide baseline data and have already generated discussions within the district.

“We can't do it without you,” she told more than a dozen attendees at the first parent meeting.

The survey addressed multiple topics, including the purpose of report cards; policies on late assignments; grading system preference, such as letter grades; and homework – both its purpose and time spent on it.

In some cases, responses from parents and teachers differed. Parents of high school students, for example, generally said homework takes their child more than two hours a day, while teachers generally placed the task at between one and two hours.

An approach the district will pilot next school year might challenge some people's beliefs about grading.

Some teachers will use mastery learning, which gives students who performed poorly on an assessment a second chance to succeed, Guskey said. Teachers must use a different approach when presenting the material to those students for a second time.

He acknowledged that some people have trouble giving students another chance. If a grade represents what a student has learned, Guskey said, why does it matter whether the student needs another try?